The swearing-in ceremony of the Bharatiya Janata Party's first government in Maharashtra at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai last year cost Rs 98.33 lakh, an RTI query has revealed.
At a time when Maharashtra was facing severe drought and also there was claim by BJP of empty state coffers, the party went ahead and spent Rs 98.33 lakhs of government funds to organise a lavish swearing-in ceremony of its first state government at the Wankhede stadium on October 31, 2014, RTI activist Anil Galgali alleged in a statement in Mumbai on Tuesday.
He also said that the Mumbai BJP unit did not respond to the query about the amount spent by the party (BJP's share in the expenses) during the swearing-in ceremony.
Galgali had filed the RTI query with the Maharashtra government and Mumbai BJP unit, seeking information about the expenses incurred on the oath taking ceremony of the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government at Wankhede stadium.
In reply to the query, Under Secretary, Protocol, S G Moghe said that the government spent Rs 98,33,830, of which the PWD's Executive Engineer (Establishments) City and Executive Engineer (Electric) were given approval of Rs 67,00,660 and Rs 30,60,670 respectively.
Additional Police Commissioner (South Region) was approved of Rs 72,500 for providing security screening equipment on rent, Galgali said.
Mumbai BJP unit has failed to even acknowledge the query put forth by me, let alone replying to it, Galgali said.
Galgali said it was intriguing why the swearing-in was held at Wankhede and the response of the Sharad Pawar-led Mumbai Cricket Association, which immediately convened a meeting and offered the ground for the event free of cost.
In response to his query on why only Wankhede stadium was selected for the purpose and rules pertaining to swearing-in ceremonies, Galgali said the government provided a copy of letter from Governor C Vidyasagar Rao of October 28, 2014, in which he had directed Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya to hold the swearing-in at Wankhede Stadium.
Image: A scene from the oath taking ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis at the Wankhede Stadium.